The main focus of the Solidarity Apothecary is making and distributing plant medicines to people experiencing state violence and repression. This can be in form of care packages, one-to-one support or as part of the mobile clinic.
State violence is a brutal reality for many; an experience that is racialised, classed and gendered in its design and application. The scope of state harms is beyond what I can describe or define on this page. Free herbal support is available to people experiencing state violence in different ways. For example:
- People that have been arrested and are recovering from police violence
- People experiencing state repression, for example, on trial or awaiting trial, under house arrest and other restrictions
- Prisoners and people in immigration detention (via the Prisoner Herbalism Collective)
- Refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants experiencing border violence (as well as ex-detainees)
- People bereaved from state violence
- Prisoner families and those affected by imprisonment (especially long-term)
- Frontline organisers that are engaged in support and solidarity work during these times
- Frontline organisers at sites of resistance such as protest camps, occupations, uprisings etc.
If you’re not on this list, please don’t hesitate to still contact me. I have also donated herbs to various BIPOC projects, abortion support projects, mental health projects, homeless projects etc. Themselves inseparable from the harms of the state. I will always say if something is not possible or beyond my capacity. Or I will try to connect you with other herbalists that can offer support. If you are interested in receiving books for your project, please see the Prisoner’s Herbal Request page here.
An often neglected conversation around repression is the impact on our bodies. Even for those not directly being in prison, the chronic stress involved in the process of being arrested, under surveillance, being raided by police, court cases and so on – it’s absolutely huge. Likewise, for those doing the support work, this level of stress is so demanding for the body. For those in prison or recovering from prison, our bodies have experienced the chronic trauma of captivity. I know from personal experience that prison and repression can have long-term health impacts.
So many plants can help to mitigate the harm of chronic stress and nourish our bodies to help them survive and develop resilience.
Nervines – a group of plants that affect the nervous system – can help support our bodies to relax and gain respite from the intensity of fight-flight-freeze response we feel when experiencing or re-experiencing trauma and stress. Digestive herbs can help sooth anxious stomachs or reduce nausea. Herbs can even help with nightmares we may experience after prison.
For people experiencing repression, I often try to encourage the use of nourishing plants such as nettle infusions and mineral-rich vinegars, because in times of stress our nutrition is not always optimum, especially if we are living underground for example. Leaving prison, we may also have severe nutritional deficiencies, such as anaemia and so nutritive herbs can be very important.
Finally, by using plant medicines we can feel more connected to the world around us. Even in prison, there can be plants breaking through the concrete. They can bring us comfort and strength and by experimenting with plant medicines we can learn more about our own bodies and health, which can be really empowering!
I make a huge diversity of medicine. This includes dried plants for tea and infusions, tinctures, glycerites, syrups, vinegars and oils.
I prefer making tinctures and glycerites because they last longer, are easy to use and can travel easily. I will make a lot of different individual tinctures and glycerites and sometimes combine them for people. Glycerine is great because it is alcohol-free (and sweet and delicious).
For vinegars, I mostly make nourishing mineral mixes that can be taken daily. I make a deep immune syrup with elderberries, rosehips and other herbs. In terms of oils, I will make nourishing supportive mixes that are good for aching muscles and to support with getting to sleep more easily during times of stress. Lavender oil with olive oil from Palestine is a personal favourite and something I commonly send.
For people living at sites of resistance, I often send immune support such as elderberry syrup, fire cider vinegar, chest rubs and other things that can mitigate respiratory infections that are so common when living outside.
For the mobile clinic with Herbalists without Borders, we collectively make a huge variety of herbal medicines from anti-itch sprays, wound sprays and mouthwashes, to multiple creams, cough syrups, antimicrobial vinegar and more.
Nearly all the plants are harvested from where I live, which is on a smallholding in the south west of England where I am blessed and privileged to live. We care for the land agroecologically by working with nature. We do not use pesticides or any inputs from farmed animals. I grow many plants in a large herb garden but also harvest and forage from the abundant wild plants living within the site. I am a very careful forager and never take more than a sustainable amount. I will accept donations of plant material or medicines from herbalists that I trust, otherwise, I prefer to make my own so I know the quality. I tend to only give plant medicines that I have already used myself. I purchase herbs occasionally if I am making medicine in quantity beyond what I can grow (for example, for Calais) and try to purchase organic herbs when possible.
It is a lot of graft but I manage to cover most medicine making costs through sales of my books, merchandise and lavender oil. It would also not be possible without folks donating each month or organising fundraisers for the Solidarity Apothecary.
Our work with Herbalists without Borders in Calais is also sustained from grassroots donations and some grants more recently.
I would love to extend this work so much - leave my day job and do the Solidarity Apothecary full-time, offer more one-to-one support, take the mobile clinic to sites of resistance, make medicine en masse and develop popular education in herbalism.
If you want to support the Solidarity Apothecary materially support revolutionary struggles and communities with plant medicines to strengthen collective autonomy, self-defence and resilience to climate change, capitalism and state violence - click here to donate!